I have finally worked out how to host a dinner party without the added stress! I’ve just had the most fabulous birthday weekend, full of family and friends (minus my daughter who is still in Sri Lanka and one of my brothers who was on call) and finally feel that I’ve managed to discover the perfect combination for the modern dinner party….a messy, more or less effortless gathering full of laughter, talking, dancing and drinking. I shared the party with another girlfriend and we arranged for a (take-away) curry to be delivered in big vats, we used bamboo disposable plates and cutlery and got people to bring champagne/prosecco or wine and it worked really well. All I did was vaguely clear a space and cook some rice in my trusty rice cooker. With this combination you are guaranteed success and if you’re lucky, everyone will stay late and dance around the kitchen with you in a silly manner until the early hours. Even your mother, your brother, sister in law and your children – even though the youngest said he might go out to another party after he’d eaten – luckily it was too much fun and he didn’t leave!
For a start I would recommend that you get rid of all the food in your fridge and replace it with alcohol:-
I worked out a while ago that the more traditional dinner party is simply not for me on the basis that they’re too much effort, waste too much time preparing and are far too formal. In my 20’s and 30’s I was an avid dinner-party lover and host – I suppose it made me feel like a grown-up. But just when the dinner party scene really started kicking off, I got divorced and they were one of things that dropped totally off my agenda. Initially I suspect this was because I didn’t want to host dinners for all my married friends and feel like the sad singleton. It took a long time for me to feel comfortable in my own singleness and often I had to force myself into situations I wasn’t comfortable with – one’s where everyone seemed to say “we” all the time and it hurt. It’s easy to imagine that all your friends have better things to do with their loved ones than come over to see you. You feel like everyone is moving forward without you, but the reality is that very often, they are feeling lonely too. Stuck at home with a partner and/or children and wondering what has happened to all their friends.
Now, in my new world order, with more grown up children, we might have emerged from the black hole of school meetings, tea parties and early mornings, only to find that we all have new issues to contend with, such as empty nest syndrome and feelings of inadequacy about what to do next, illness and ageing parents, unhappiness within marriages and issues with children, to name but a few and they can all take their toll. BUT the thing you have to remember more than anything is that we all feel the same way, no matter what our circumstances and time spent with friends and family is just the best tonic ever and we all have a bit more time to spend with friends now. Girlfriends and children are forever and it’s important to find time to go to an exhibition, a talk, the cinema, a dinner, a cocktail or a dance in the kitchen….it doesn’t matter what it is – mix them all together and enjoy – we can help each other get through it all with a laugh along the way, even in times of adversity.
There is no real art to my new world order of gatherings. It is a messy, bring anyone sort of space. One that I can enjoy without feeling guilty the next morning that I didn’t speak to everyone. Or face-planted onto the floor during the Cornflake game (don’t ask) and there is nothing more special than eating, talking, drinking and dancing too much with the people you love and I for one have found it’s the most bonding thing to do with my children as they grow up. Having started them young, I now am privileged enough to find that when it’s my birthday, they are happy to come and play.
And don’t worry about the mess until the morning:-
My one massive fail was requesting lunch out on Sunday as my birthday present from my boys. I hadn’t really factored the hangover or the tiredness into the equation and it was the most hopeless of lunches. We were all mute and my youngest could barely open his eyes, let alone converse. STILL never mind, they were there, with me and that is what counts. It didn’t even matter (much) that my son said “sorry mum, I’m overdrawn already this month so do you mind lending me the money to pay for your lunch?”.